Traffic on Kellogg near downtown has been slow and snarled for the past few days, and it’s looking like it may stay that way for another few months.
Repairs to six bridges on Kellogg – mostly in the eastbound lanes – have begun and are not expected to be completed until November, according to the state Department of Transportation.
On Monday, crews reduced eastbound Kellogg to two lanes from Seneca to Washington. All other lanes will be closed around the clock, and the speed limit has been reduced to 50 mph in the area.
“I’m telling you, it was a mess,” KDOT spokesman Tom Hein said, referring to traffic problems created by the road work.
Repairs to the bridges at Sycamore, Seneca and the central business district include bridge expansion joint repair, deck milling, patching and concrete overlay, according to a news release. Crews now are repairing one side of the bridges, Hein said.
“Those bridges get pretty extensive work that requires them to allow that concrete to cure, which means it’s not overnight work,” he said. “They’re putting a whole overlay of concrete on it. It has to sit there for days and days, a week or two, before they can ever put traffic back on it.”
After seeing the congestion from cars trying to merge onto eastbound Kellogg from Seneca on Tuesday, Hein said the department decided to close the entire on-ramp from 7 p.m. Tuesday until November.
“There’s no way to get them into those two lanes that are going to be zooming by at 50 mph, allegedly,” Hein said. “There’s no safe way for them to merge into the existing traffic. You might be able to from midnight to 6 a.m., but after that, forget it.
“A lot of people are going to be very surprised about it. We’re sorry, but we didn’t know this was going to be such a problem, and it just became necessary to close it.”
After the one side of the bridge has been repaired, work will switch to the other lanes, Hein said.
At that time, the eastbound exit ramp to the central business district will be closed, because it will be torn up.
“We’re going to mark the detour for them to get off at Washington,” Hein said. “I think regular commuters are going to find a better way or know it’s going to take a lot longer to get to downtown or wherever they’re going.”
In addition to the road work near downtown, crews will repair bridges in the eastbound lanes of Kellogg over Meridian and Edwards. Scheduled repairs include deck patching and expansion joint replacement, according to the release.
Those traffic lanes will be closed only in the evening and overnight, with lanes near Meridian and Edwards being opened by about 6 a.m. daily.
The final bridge repair project will be in the westbound lanes of Kellogg at the central business district. The deck patching and expansion joint replacement there will require westbound lanes to be closed only in the evening and overnight, with all lanes reopening by 6 a.m. daily.
Wildcat Concrete Services of Topeka is the contractor on the $1.45 million project.
Contributing: Carrie Rengers of The Eagle